Freshman State Representative Jody Barrett of Dickson County Describes New Role as Legislator

Freshman State Representative Jody Barrett of Dickson County Describes New Role as Legislator

Live from Music Row, Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Tennessee State Representative (R-TN-69) Jody Barrett in studio to describe what it is like in the Tennessee General Assembly as a freshman legislator.

Leahy: We welcome to our microphones a good friend, state Representative Jody Barrett from Tennessee’s 69th Congressional District, a newly elected member of the Tennessee House of Representatives. Good morning, Jody.

Barrett: Good morning. How are you?

Leahy: Good, good. I think you were telling me how much you enjoyed waking up at 4:00 am in the morning at your house in the Dickson area just to drive in. And drove in just for this program. We appreciate that.

Barrett: My regular office staff back in Dickson will laugh knowing that I’m not a morning person.

Leahy: Are you not a morning person?

Barrett: Usually not. I can work well into the night, but getting up early is a little bit tough.

Leahy: The patterns of when you get up, when you go to work, people get into certain patterns. And it’s difficult if you are a night person, it’s very difficult getting up in the wee hours, isn’t it? The unnatural time even before farmers would go out to milk their cows. You have to get it before that to come on the show.

Barrett: This body is an old 73 Ford. Sometimes you got to pump the gas a little bit to get her to crank.

Leahy: A 73 Ford is much better than a 55 Edsel. (Laughter) So listen, you were in here before with your good friend John Rich, who was very supportive of your campaign to become and you’re the state representative from the 69th district that covers what? Dickson County?

Barrett: Dickson, Hickman, and Lewis County.

Leahy: And you’re an attorney?

Barrett: Yes.

Leahy: And tell me, what it’s been like being a freshman member of the Tennessee House of Representatives?

Barrett: It’s like a lot of things that you get into for the first time that they don’t give you a handbook that tells you what all to expect and what you need to do. They just kind of throw you into the deep end of the water and say, hey, figure it out.

Leahy: No training?

Barrett: No training. Very little training, actually. What a lot of folks won’t know is that on the first day, November 8th, you have an election. In my case, it was a birthday and an election party at the same time. And so you wake up on November 9th and you start getting phone calls and emails from folks that…

Leahy: Why aren’t you doing this, why aren’t you doing that?

Barrett: Exactly.

Leahy: I got a problem over here. Why are you sitting on your you know what and not fixing my problems?

Barrett: That’s right.

Leahy: Do you enjoy those calls?

Barrett: Oh, yeah, it’s part of the job.

Leahy: It’s part of the job.

Barrett: And you talk about John getting me into this. I’ll have a talking to with him later.

Leahy: John, really?

Barrett: But emails right off the bat, folks that need help. And look, a lot of them are not emails that are from inside of my district. So things that you don’t necessarily have experience with.

Leahy: If somebody from Chattanooga says, Representative Barrett, I got this problem, and you say you also have another state representative who represents you.

Barrett: Depending upon the issue that they’re dealing with. If it’s a local issue or something along those lines, I’ll try to point them in the right direction.

I’ve gotten a lot of emails and calls about things that are federal and things that their congressman or their senators should be helping them with. So just try to help point people in the right direction and get them where they need to go.

Leahy: And somebody who’s got a federal problem, where do they go? They know you. And you say well talk to the feds.

Barrett: That’s right.

Leahy: What’s been surprising about this for you?

Barrett: I get that question a lot, and a lot of it there’s not been a lot of surprises because I was a legislative intern when I was in college. So I spent a session up here.

Leahy: So you saw the sausages get made.

Barrett: Exactly. I’ve seen it go down. Certainly from an outside looking in perspective, it’s different, certainly, as an intern as it is as a representative, but seeing the inner workings, seeing how the lobbyists work, seeing how the leadership does their thing. Nothing’s really been surprising up to this point.

Leahy: Seeing how the lobbyists work. Are there a lot of lobbyists up there? (Chuckles)

Barrett: Yes. I kind of got into the weeds a little bit on lobbyists during the campaign with my predecessor, who is now a member of the lobbyist group.

Leahy: Did he send you a thank you note?

Barrett: I haven’t heard much from him.

Leahy: (Laughs) I’m teasing.

Barrett: No, I haven’t heard much from him. And, look, he’s playing by the rules. He’s supposed to lay low for a year, and he’ll get back into it this summer. But lobbyists play an important role as a lawyer. I understand that people need advocates. They can’t spend 24 hours a day up on the Hill for themselves.

Leahy: You could, except you would not be able to make a living at it.

Barrett: Exactly. Right.

Leahy: It’s a full-time gig.

Barrett: It is.

Leahy: To pay attention to what’s going on up there.

Barrett: It is.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

– – –

Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Jody Barrett” by Jody Barrett Tennessee State Representative. Background Photo “Dickson County Courthouse” by Brian Stansberry. CC BY 3.0.


TN State Director of Faith and Freedom Coalition Praises State Senate for Passing SB 1, Which Prohibits Gender Mutilation of Children Younger Than 18

TN State Director of Faith and Freedom Coalition Praises State Senate for Passing SB 1, Which Prohibits Gender Mutilation of Children Younger Than 18

Live from Music Row, Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Aaron Gulbransen, director of Tennessee’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, in studio to discuss the passing of SB 1 in the State Senate which would not allow gender transition surgeries to children under the age of 18.

Leahy: In studio with us, the official guest host of The Tennessee Star Report and the Tennessee state executive director for the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Aaron Gulbransen. Well, Aaron, this is your time. The Tennessee General Assembly is in session and you are up there walking through the halls of the state Capitol talking to state legislators about the priorities of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. What are your big priorities right now, and where do they stand in the Tennessee General Assembly?

Gulbransen: Of course, a lot of news has been made over the last few months over SB 1, which is the anti-transgender mutilation bill which is sponsored by House Majority Leader on the House side William Lambert and Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson.

Leahy: The key to that bill is if you’re under 18, you cannot have any parts of your body removed (I’ll put it that way) or have any puberty blockers that will kind of…

Gulbransen: Yes. It passed the State Senate yesterday.

Leahy: Oh, it did!

Gulbransen: Which is great.

Leahy: It passed the State Senate yesterday.

Gulbransen: So now we got to go through the House.

Leahy: Where does that stand in the House?

Gulbransen: It’ll pass. It’s going to pass. That’s SB3.

Leahy: Will the governor sign it?

Gulbransen: I haven’t seen him object to it. I can’t see if he objects to this, I’m going to go buy a lotto ticket.

Leahy: And by the way, the issue there is, and I think actually both Jack Johnson and Cam Sexton were smart in the way they framed it because they put the age at 18. Eighteen matters because that seems to be literally a no-brainer. A lot of people argue that it should be higher, 21, 26. They make good arguments because the brain is still developing.

But politically, if you can vote at 18, if you can drink in some states at 18, it’s hard to make the argument for the higher case. And in Oklahoma, a legislator started out at 26, and he backed down to age 21. So I think that’s a good starting point.

Gulbransen: Yes, that’s a very high-profile bit of legislation we’ve been supporting the entire time. This year, Senator Leader Johnson in the Senate has really come out with a lot of good bits of legislation. A bill that I’m waiting to see, I’ve had conversations on HB 0800, and on the Senate side is SB 0425. I believe if you were to count everything all together, you have over 3,000 bills between the House and the Senate.

Leahy: What do those bills mean?

Gulbransen: A lot of them are joint bits of legislation. But anyway, this is a conscience bill when it comes to religious objections raised to things in health and human services and that sort of thing. But we got a caption bill there. I’m waiting for the actual language to be put in.

Leahy: Tell everybody what a caption bill is.

Gulbransen: A caption bill is essentially a placeholder while the real legislation is being worked on.

Leahy: Yes, it’s a category and there’s a timeline. The timeline is coming, gone now for this session.

Gulbransen: But pay attention to this legislation by Representative Jason Zachary, who I’m very impressed with and of course, very impressed with Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson. There is legislation that I and my cohort, Aaron Spradlin of the Mission America Foundation, as well as a board member of the Tennessee Faith and Freedom Coalition, are working on that deals with enabling new tools to fight child human trafficking in the state. I would say pay attention and stand by on that.

Leahy: So let’s talk about that particular bill and Jason Zachary. Since I first met Jason, we held an event at the Blount County Library in Maryville back in the Beat Lamar days, which would be back in 2013, 2014.

The first I met him, he was running for Congress then and didn’t win, but went on to serve in the state legislature. This is his third term, maybe the fourth term in the state legislature. He’s turned out to be quite a leader, it seems to me.

Gulbransen: I would encourage anybody if you’ve got a chance to go spend a few days at the General Assembly and just walk the halls and try to meet with a few of them because one of the privileges we have is you get to see in my position and in your position, you get to see who the workhorses are.

You get to see who the show horses are. You get to see the people that are thoughtful elected officials. There are people that you could disagree with, but you realize that they’re thoughtful. There’s respect for a particular issue. But I’ve been particularly impressed with getting to know Representative Zachary, been very impressed with our friend Jody Barrett, what he’s been doing in the General Assembly.

Leahy: Jody Barrett, first term. He’s from Dickson. And he went to high school with John Rich, the performer, who’s been in studio here with us. He’s an attorney as well. When you become a state legislator, I think if you have a level of maturity, you think, okay, I’m here, and I’m going to play sort of the long game.

I’m going to approach this, treat my colleagues with respect, make my arguments, win or lose. If you lose, go on, play for the next year. I think that’s a good strategy. Not every state legislature adopts that approach.

Gulbransen: No, I mean, just Gloria Johnson out of the eastern part of the state, out of Knoxville. She’s a far-left liberal communist. (Leahy laughs) I don’t mince words when it comes to this garbage. Let’s just call it what it is.

Leahy: Gloria Johnson is a far-left liberal.

Gulbransen: She’s competing yearly for the title of worst legislation. We should come up with that, like the Razzies for legislation.

Leahy: You want to do that? We could do that.

Gulbransen: The Lefties, we’ll call it.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

– – –

Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Background Photo “Tennessee Senate” by Tennessee General Assembly.


State Senator Jack Johnson Details the Process by Which Governor Lee’s Proposed Legislation Is Carried

State Senator Jack Johnson Details the Process by Which Governor Lee’s Proposed Legislation Is Carried

Live from Music Row, Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Tennessee State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson in studio to explain the process by which the Governor’s legislation is carried.

Leahy: In studio State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson is here in studio for this last segment. You got to go up to do some business.

Johnson: I’ve got to get to work. I work for the people in Williamson County. I got to go clock in.

Leahy: I know you’re not going to be able to stick around for News Potpourri, but you can make it there in time. It’s close to here.

Johnson: It’s a very long drive. (Chuckles)

Leahy: But I wanted to take this last segment here, Jack, to talk to you a little bit about the process by which the state legislature reviews the budget proposal set forward by the governor in the State of the State Address. And it was a long list of things that he wants to accomplish, and some of them, I think, like the transportation infrastructure are very promising, depending on the details. And then other things like this $350 million for sports facilities in Memphis.

I don’t like that at all. But tell us what the process is where you as a state Senate majority leader,  and how you work through that process, what your relationship with the governor is, what your duties are, and then what that back room conversations are.

Johnson: The way the process works in Tennessee is the elected leader who is the leader of the party, of the governor. So we have a Republican governor. So the Republican leader in the Senate and the Republican leader in the House are the sponsors of everything the governor would like to do from a legislative standpoint.

Leahy: When you say the leader, you talk about the majority leader.

Johnson: In this case it is, but let’s say we had a Democratic governor and we had a Republican majority in the legislature. Then it would be the Democratic leader or the minority leader who would be the sponsor of the governor’s legislation. But in this case, you’re right. We have a Republican governor and we have a Republican majority.

Leahy: But it’s not Randy McNally and it’s not Speaker Cameron Sexton, Randy McNally, the president of the state Senate and our lieutenant governor.

Johnson: Correct.

Leahy: Or the Speaker of the House Cam Sexton. It is the majority leader in the House, William Lambert and the majority leader in the state Senate that’s you, Jack Johnson. Why is it that the governor’s legislation is not carried by the Speaker of the House or the state Senate president?

Johnson: Sure. We have the speaker of the Senate, Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally. We have the speaker of the House. They are elected by their chamber. So they are the presiding officer, if you will, over the House and then over the Senate. My role is more of a partisan role, even though certainly Randy McNally is a Republican. Cameron Sexton is a Republican. They are elected by the body.

Leahy: They handle the entire body, meaning all the Democrats there as well as the Republicans. Therefore, they could not be the partisan sponsor of these bills that the Governor wants.

Johnson: Typically not. And it’s very unusual for the Speakers to file legislation with their name on it. My role, and Leader Lambert’s role, is to basically be the liaison, if you will, for our majorities in both the House and the Senate.

And so when the Governor has something he or she would like to have done, be it a legislative initiative or the budget, and I’m the sponsor of the budget in the Senate, leader Lambert is the sponsor of the budget in the House. And so it’s our job to shepherd that legislation through.

I always want to point out that it’s also our job to go back to the Governor and say, hey, this is not getting a favorable reception. It’s getting a bit of a cool breeze here on what you’ve proposed, Governor. And so we work through all that. We have those conversations.

Leahy: So have you had those conversations in the previous budget year with the Governor? And he said, you know, State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, you have a point. Let’s take that off for this year. Have you had that happen?

Johnson: Absolutely. And I’ll say this about Governor Bill Lee. He is a collaborator. He wants to work in partnership with the General Assembly. We’ve had those conversations, and I’ve had to go back to and say, hey, I don’t think we can get the votes to do X. We can do Y and Z, but I can’t get the votes to do X.

And so we’ve modified or changed whatever he is wanting to do. The budget is the most important bill we pass every year. It’s actually the only constitutionally required piece of legislation we have to pass every year. The way the Constitution lays it out, the Governor is required to propose a state budget, which he did on Monday night, and he delivers a budget document.

And that’s a proposal, and that’s a starting place. He has weeks and weeks of budget hearings with all the various agencies and departments of the government, and they come with their budget needs and say, hey, Governor, we need more money to do this, or hey, we’re able to save some money by not doing this.

And he puts together a budget proposal and then that is presented. And actually, yesterday morning, the Commissioner of Finance and Administration, Jim Bryson, my predecessor in the State Senate ran for Governor back in 2006, which is the year I ran for the Senate seat.

So, a great friend. And he did an extensive and more in-depth presentation of the Governor’s proposed budget. So there’s an old saying, though. The Governor proposes the General Assembly disposes. And so that budget proposal, we will now have hearings. We’ll have testimony.

All the different departments and state government have to come in and make their independent budget proposal that is included in the governor’s budget. We ask questions, why are you spending money on this? Why can’t you save money by doing this?

And it’s a very grueling, in-depth process, but it should be because we need to go through that budget with a fine tooth comb. And we do, both in the House and the Senate. And later in session, there will be an amendment. We call it the budget amendment that usually comes in March sometimes or sometime in March.

And that’s where the governor maybe wants to change a few things. And then ultimately the legislature can take things out of the governor’s proposed budget, put things in, change it, modify it. But it’s done collaboratively with the governor and his staff. It’s a very effective process.

Leahy: So, you are sitting there for the State of the State and listening, the night before last Monday night, and as you listen to the speech, do you hear proposals that you say, well, that’s interesting, I wonder what that’s all about? Does that happen?

Johnson: It does. And we get a briefing prior to the governor’s State of the State, legislative leadership does. So we have a pretty good general idea of what’s in there, but it’s always good to hear the governor lay out his vision.


– – –

Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.



Tennessee State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson Details Bill to Prohibit Gender Transition Treatments for Minors

Tennessee State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson Details Bill to Prohibit Gender Transition Treatments for Minors

Live from Music Row, Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson in studio to explain Senate Bill one and House Bill one that would prohibit children under the age of 18 from having gender transition procedures whether surgically or medically.

Leahy: In studio, Tennessee State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson. Good morning, Jack.

Johnson: Good morning, Michael. Good to be with you in studio.

Leahy: In studio! You’re right in the middle of the Tennessee General Assembly and your schedule just worked out so that you’ve got an hour and 15 minutes to hang out with us here in studio. Thank you so much for coming in.

Johnson: I’m happy to do it. I actually stayed in Nashville last night, which I do sometimes during session when it’s an early morning followed by a late night. And so I was already in the neighborhood, let’s say.

Leahy: We just really appreciate it and it’s fun. You and I have been friends for a long time and we have a nice back-and-forth and we’ve know each other and trust each other, but also our listeners enjoy hearing the inside story of what’s going on. Mark Meckler, the head of the Convention of States, a former Tea Party guy, I asked him this question yesterday.

And the question was, there are like 30 states where the Republicans control both houses of the state legislature. And I said, you know, some of those states are really doing great things, some of them not so great things. Can you explain the difference between these states? And he had a really great answer, one word. Leadership.

If you’ve got good conservative leadership that’s working kind of cooperatively with each other, then you can get good conservative things done. And I have to tell you, just looking at this from afar, often the Tennessee General Assembly, they’ll meet and it’s like drama.

Somebody is mad at somebody else and yelling about this bill, yelling about that. That’s a democratic process, I have to tell you. Not that the topics aren’t interesting, but there’s been such little controversy so far, it’s been kind of boring, Jack. (Laughter)

Johnson: We’re not getting enough material for your show as substantively from issues it is. But usually, you have somebody yelling and railing at the moon and we’d like to kind of keep that little interpersonal drama going.

Leahy: But there you are. You’ve got the lieutenant governor, Randy McNally. You’re the state Senate majority leader. And then you’ve got the Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton and the House Majority Leader, William Lamberth. It’s a well-running machine from what I can tell.

Johnson: Well, it is. And Michael, you know this, and most of your listeners do, but we got a lot of new people, right, that have moved in. And I like to remind folks that have just moved in. Republicans have only controlled this state for 12 years.

It was January of 2011, the first time since the Civil War that Republicans had the governor’s office, the State House, and the State Senate. And fortunately, I’ve had a front-row seat to making history as a member of the General Assembly. And so my attitude and I think the attitude of many of my colleagues who lived in the state as you did under Democratic control for many, many years, when we got that control, it was not lost on us that, hey, we need to do something with this.

You don’t know how long you’re going to have it. So let’s make as much progress as we can. And I’m proud to say that we’ve talked about many times in that very short period of time, barely over a decade, we’ve made Tennessee, I believe, the most conservative state in the nation. We’re the least taxed and the least indebted.

Our pension plan is fully funded. We’re the safest place in the world to be an unborn child. I could go on and on about the things we’re doing, and that’s no different this year, this legislative session when you look at all the things we’re trying to tackle.

Leahy: Let’s talk about those things. A couple of important bills. We talked to State Representative Chris Todd.

Johnson: Yes. I heard him. He did a great job.

Leahy: About the bill that would basically prohibit a certain kind of conduct at, it’s called the Drag Queen Show, but it’s really for any kind of conduct that would either show some naked skin or mimic sex acts in front of children and that it would be first, a misdemeanor, and then on the second, offensive felony for the performer.

So that’s moving forward. Also, you’ve got this bill to stop transgender mutilation. Big bill. Tell us about that bill and where it stands right now in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Johnson: Sure. So that is SB1 and HB1. My good friend. Your good friend House Majority Leader William Lamberth is the sponsor in the House. And I’ve taken it all the way through the committee process in the Senate, and it is ready to go to the floor, could be on the floor for a final vote in the Senate on Monday evening. We’ll see where it ends up getting calendared, but certainly, I suspect next week. And that bill and then the adult entertainment bill is what I’ve tried to start calling it now.

Leahy: You’re right, that’s more accurate to describe. It’s not the drag queen bill, it’s the adult entertainment bill. It certainly was brought to attention because of some of these horrendous videos that have surfaced from places in Tennessee as well as other places. There was one down there in Chattanooga.

Johnson: There was one there where you had blatantly sexual activity taking place at a so called family friendly drag show. And that’s what brought it to our attention. But the bill specifically says you just can’t do these types of sexually explicit things in front of kids. We very heavily regulate that type of entertainment when it takes place in adult-oriented establishments.

And then SB1, which just says we’re not going to do anything to a child based on their sexual identity or gender dysphoria that’s irreversible. We’re not going to do that medicinally or surgically. When they turn 18, that’s the age of maturity in the state of Tennessee, they can do what they want, but we’re going to protect these kids.

We’re going to love them. We’re going to get them the help they need. We’ve had lots of testimony from health experts relative to the mental illness that plagues some of these people and some of the other issues that they’re dealing with. And we want to love them. We want to help them get the help they need.

Many will get through this difficult time by the time they reach adulthood or early adulthood. And if not, and they turn eight on their 18th birthday, they want to schedule an appointment to go in and have their body modified or altered or start taking hormones or things that will change their body permanently, that’s a decision that needs to be made by an adult. This is common sense.

Leahy: I think so.

Johnson: I think it is.

Leahy: Everybody in our listening audience is saying, well, yeah, where’s the controversy? This just makes common sense.

Johnson: Unfortunately, though, there are some out there who believe differently.

Leahy: (Chuckles) We’ll get to that in a minute. But tell us where this bill is and how it’s going to move through the system you talked about it coming before the state Senate for a floor vote. And for our listeners, getting a bill for a floor vote, that’s a big deal.

Johnson: It is a big deal. Most of the work done on legislation is done in committees. The vast majority, not everything, but the vast majority of bills that make it to the floor will pass and pass overwhelmingly. So far, SB1, and HB1, dealing with these transgender surgeries on minors, we’ve had two votes in the Senate. They were both party-line votes.

It was in the Health and Welfare Committee last week and passed out seven to one. There was only one Democrat on the committee, and then I had it in the Judiciary Committee yesterday, and the vote was seven-two. Two Democrats voted against it.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:


– – –

Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.



State Representative Bud Hulsey Discusses His New K-12 Education Bill

State Representative Bud Hulsey Discusses His New K-12 Education Bill

Live from Music Row, Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed State Representative Bud Hulsey (R-Kingsport) to the newsmaker line to detail his new bill that would require parents to opt their children into surveys and curriculum.

Leahy: This morning on the newsmaker line, State Representative Bud Hulsey from Kingsport is here to join us to talk about his new K-12 education bill. Good morning, Representative Hulsey.

Hulsey: Good morning, Michael. Glad to be with you.

Leahy: Is this the first time you’ve been on our program, Representative Hulsey?

Hulsey: Yes, sir, I’ve been on your paper before, but this is the first time I’ve been on your program.

Leahy: We are delighted. You’re here in town for the Tennessee General Assembly in session.

Hulsey: Yes, sir.

Leahy: You’re a long way from Kingsport. That’s quite a drive, isn’t it?

Hulsey: (Chuckles) It takes me four hours and 15 minutes to get down here.

Leahy: You know exactly how long it takes, don’t you?

Swain: You must be speeding. I’ve done that ride, and took me five hours.

Leahy: He knows the shortcuts, Carol.

Hulsey: Yes, that’s it.

Leahy: That’s it. That’s the ticket. Let’s talk about this bill. Let me outline the bill which both Carol and I have looked at this and it sounds like a really good idea. Let me describe it and then let’s get your description. It’s for local education agencies, basically, it’s a county school district.

In Tennessee, there are 147 local education agencies, 95 counties, and about 50 other local education agencies, some state cities, et cetera. But your bill, HB 0727, would require a student or parent or legal guardian to provide written, informed, and voluntarily signed consent to the student’s local education agency.

Typically the county school system, before the student, may receive instruction through the local education agency’s family life curriculum, participate in the survey, analysis, or evaluation, or receive health services provided through a coordinated school health program.

This sounds like a good idea. Tell us about your motivation in putting this together and how you see this winding its way through the Tennessee House of Representatives this session.

Hulsey: Thank you, Michael. As most state representatives down here, you have some ideas of your own and some things that you’re passionate about your own bills on, then a lot of bills you run because groups of people come to you and say, this is a problem and here’s our solution to it. Will you help us fix it?

And that’s how this bill actually came about from a group called Free Tennessee. And what it does is right now, if you have a student at school, most schools in this state, and there’s a curriculum that a lot of times is really controversial depending on whose worldview is teaching it.

But generally, they surround health issues and those kinds of things. And right now, if you don’t want your kid going to those classes, you have to opt out of it and make sure you fill out the forms to opt your kid out of it.

What this bill does is it turns it around and says that if you want your kid to participate in those programs, you have to opt into it. Otherwise, your kid doesn’t take it. And the reason that that’s kind of important is a lot of these issues, I’ve got in front of me some of the forms from Metro Nashville Public Schools, and there are several of them.

Just like one is called the School Climate Survey, where they survey your kid, and they talk to your kid, and they deal with and teach some of these things to improve school climate, culture, and those kinds of things.

Another one is called the Metro Public Health Department Youth Risk Behavior Survey. And another one is health screening, which includes COVID-19 testing. And another one is called Universal Behavior.

And then there’s a wrap-around service where somebody contacts your kid throughout the year. It could be phoned or in-person talking to them. And then there’s family life and sexual health education.

Leahy: We’re getting into territory there with what’s going on right now where you can see these school districts are trying to influence your children on really important topics without your knowledge or consent. Carol Swain looks like she wants to ask you a question.

Swain: I would just like to commend you on the legislation. I think it’s brilliant, and it is necessary because there is a very open agenda to indoctrinate our children. They don’t hide their aims and intents, and some parents are so busy, they are totally unaware of what has taken place.

Hulsey: That’s the problem. When your kid comes home with a packet of information, a lot of times, it doesn’t even make it to the house. And the burden is on you to go through all that and decide whether you want your kid to take this class or not.

Some of these deal, in fact, it lists right here self-esteem, healthy relationships, gender identity, and sexual orientation. And as you said, a lot of times, somebody’s worldview teaching that to your children is not your worldview.

But the burden is on you to opt your kid out. And what this bill says is, no, we want to shift the burden over to opting in. If you want your kid to take those classes, you have to opt-in. Otherwise, your kid doesn’t take them.

Swain: What’s happened that’s different with education is that we have activists that have gone into teaching, and many of the interactions between the children and the teachers, it’s scripted by the National Education Association or some curriculum that is designed just to indoctrinate.

Hulsey: That’s exactly correct. This way it’s actually more transparent. If you want your kid to take those things taught by who’s teaching it, then you’ve got to opt into it.

Leahy: Let’s ask you this question. Do you have a sponsor in the State Senate who will be introducing this bill?

Hulsey: Yes. If you hold on.

Leahy: We believe you. That’s important that you got a sponsor. Sometimes they put these out. They don’t have to be introduced into the state Senate, I think, until February 15th.

The good news is it will be in the state senate as well. What do you think the path is going to be for this bill in the Tennessee General Assembly? Let’s start with the House of Representatives this session.

Hulsey: The first committee it’s going to come up in front of is going to be the education subcommittee, and I’m assuming that. That seems to be the general path, and if it makes it out of that, of course, it’ll go to the education-full. Now, there might be another committee. It might be double referred, I’m not sure, but I’m pretty positive that will be the first committee it hits.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

– – –

Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.